Behind the Cheese: A look into the Cal Poly Creamery

Well it’s about time I get to blog about what it’s really like to be a reporter. For the millions of people that look at journalism as a simple task- you’re wrong. This work is hard, innovative, and creative. What makes it so hard is the fact that PEOPLE HATE TALKING. I mean, it can go either way, people can either really hate talking or they just can’t shut up. But for those of you who freeze up at the sight of my camera and take at least five seconds to respond in fear of what I might do with your words, RELAX. People are the reason why we all want to work in journalism so we don’t want to scare anyone. They are the ones who hold the stories and we just want to be able to tell those stories. I have been lucky enough to be in an amazing group for senior project and couldn’t imagine this quarter going any better in our mission to tell four awesome stories. As if being in this group couldn’t be better our final project was covering my personal addiction, CHEESE.

It all started at pitches a week and a half ago when we absolutely had no idea what story to tell next. Ali, Tori, Riley and I started bouncing ideas off one another. What hasn’t been covered? What cool thing is happening on campus? (This is super broad cause there are a lot). What if we do something about the animal units? I immediately pointed out that the animal units have probably been overdone so I then posed the question of what specifically is unique and not well known out near the units. The answer, of course, was cheese. Knowing the reporter who just covered Cal Poly Chocolates we figured Cal Poly cheese deserved the same coverage and that’s how we got started. Getting in contact with anyone who works in agriculture is not the easiest thing. After many emails to multiple people that work at the Dairy Innovation Institution (where the Cal Poly creamery is located), we had to show up in order to schedule interviews. On the day of interviews we showed up and were given a tour of the whole facility. I was having a hard time thinking of anything else besides the fact that I wanted to eat the cheese! Addiction is hard. The innovation institution is crazy. We all had so much to accomplish and so many cool things to figure out.

Ali was working on her video and decided that she would focus on cheddar and how it’s made. In one of the rooms there was two bats full of cheese, one was orange and the other was white. This room was considered the “storage room”. For interactive, Riley wanted to make a map that would show all the locations that Cal Poly cheese is used and sold. For example, I never knew Cowgirl Cafe used our cheese! She also was getting footage of the cheeses and ingredients because she will be making a step-by-step of how it’s made and what is used to make it. Tori is writing our story and will be doing a background of the history of the innovation institute and where they are at right now in terms of progress.

The first woman we were able to interview was Baheeja Zaitoun, a research associate for the institution. She told us about cheese processes and walked us through the storage room where we got to see the buckets of cheeses. In the storage room the cheeses are separating from water so we were told to return in a few hours to see the result. I was that much closer to actual cheese, very exciting. When we returned later we met with the operations manager, Jennifer Pelayo. This included the best moment of my life in which we were shown the leftovers. The leftovers are the cheeses that aren’t presentable enough to be sold so we were able to sample them! Another interesting thing was the packaging portion of the cheese. After the cheese is wrapped it is then placed in hot water so it shrinks to fit the cheese perfectly- very cool. Also I forgot to mention that the entire time we had to be in a special outfit in order to tour the facility. Check out these lovely ladies!









So going back to the whole journalism isn’t so simple thing. Although it may seem so, a lot goes into storytelling as you can see from our experience with Cal Poly cheese. What I can say is that this field of study is so fascinating because we get the job of learning so many things and then telling people about them. No story is ever boring and the fact that we got an inside look at such an awesome product really proves how important journalism is.

I’ll leave you with some of our own thoughts throughout this process:

“It was so cool to see the whole cheese making process happening right on cal poly’s campus. Cal poly has so much to offer that I feel like so many people don’t know about.” -Ali Heston

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to shed some light on a facility that many people at cal poly don’t know about.” -Riley Rhodes

“I loved seeing an area that isn’t widely accessible to the rest of campus. It’s cool to be able to share unique opportunities we have on campus that other students might not have ever known about.” -Tori Leets